On Sunday 18 Feb 2018, the second day of our textile adventure in China’s Guizhou province, we checked out of the Trade Point Hotel in Guiyang and began making our way by road via Leishan to Xiao Danjiang to see a festival of the Long Skirt Miao.
Lunch in Leishan was a good introduction to a small town in a rural Chinese province with no tourist profile. The New Year holiday had the effect of making the town seem very quiet. I don’t think that we could have ordered food without the aid of our interpreter. Even with pointing and miming (skills we acquired progressively during the trip) there was no menu, and short of tasting the food of the smiling local Miao language speaking people at adjacent tables, we would not have known what was available. Mind you, these fellow guests were very kind and welcoming. When our guide confided to one couple that I had seen an article on the internet in Perth about fermented vegetables being a staple part of the local diet, they immediately insisted that I help myself from their bowls. While I did on subsequent days taste some very flavoursome fermented dishes, this first one was just a tad TOO fermented for me to cope with. Until then I’d assumed that our table was located a little too closely to the rubbish bins but the smell proved to be from fermentation of a deliberate kind. Our guide was also key in the finding of toilets. Often they are illusive and of course we did not have the local words to ask about them.
The view from our waterside seating in Leishan across to village landmarks.
An amusing mis-translation of Chafing Dish.The restaurant looked quite interesting but was closed for the New Year holiday.
I loved the way the modern air-conditioners were concealed by traditional wooden fretwork (just above the sign saying 20 Yuan).
Ever-present mountains in Guizhou. They say that in Guizhou Province “there are no three hectares without a mountain”. To me that seemed an under-statement.
I loved the textures in the bridge posts
The main cafe offering is hotpot. So you need to select your greens and your noodles. Here is the “pantry”. Grab a basin and fill it from this smorgasbord of refrigerated and very clean inputs. The dark material on the right of the noodles is seaweed.
We picked an outside restaurant. As a guide to scale, the gas bottle is ordinary (western) size. The stools and table are very low – but standard for the province. One has to land one’s bottom carefully or one flips backwards in a very undignified heap. It happened!
Everyone gets a bowl of “seasonings” for their hotpot helpings. Chilli, spring onions, and a fermented vegetable paste. The packet is the ubiquitous Chinese serviette: a packet of tissues dropped onto the table as you take your seat. The other packets contain chopsticks.
Our hotpot on the boil. Gas powered ring. Small bowls contain individual seasonings . Larger bowls for food are covered in plastic until required, as a guarantee of cleanliness. Small packet contains tissues aka serviettes.
The lovely street location of our lunch destination. Judy is emerging from the shop with a selection of greens for the hotpot. The rice is suitably accessible, if not exactly hygenically presented.
It’s all go now. Sliced potato, onions, noodles, seaweed and greens in the hotpot. Bowls freed of their plastic. Chopsticks yet to be unwrapped. Plenty more greens to add to the pot…..meals are generally high on vegetable and carbohydrates and low on protein, although there is sometimes some fresh or fermented tofu (the latter translated as “mildewed tofu” by our guide). And, yes, cooked lettuce IS indeed very floppy and difficult wrangle elegantly into the mouth .While our guide bought us some forks and spoons after seeing some of us struggling with chopsticks on the first night, we often forgot to take them from the car and thus rapidly had to improve our chopstick techniques.
Looking up from the hotpot to the building details above….while those with urgent needs picked their way to a toilet down an alley way before we moved on to our first festival of the trip…..